Remembering Judith Buchman


10 May 1948 – 19 October 2021

Judi is survived by life partner Richa, siblings Wayne, Sandee, Robert, and Dan and their spouses, many other relatives including Sandee’s child Sarah and Sarah’s two children, Ramona and Eleanor, all of whom Judi was particularly close with, and countless friends.

Judi was brought up on a farm in Pemberville, Ohio, by loving and hardworking parents. Graduated from East High School, where Judi was a class and student body officer, then in a compressed three years graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree.

Wanting to be a teacher from an early age, Judi then took their first teaching job in the public school system. That job lasted only a year due to disillusionment. Following that job Judi moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan with friends met at a camp in Michigan.

With a special passion for children, Judi decided not to have biological children, knowing there were already plenty of children who could use a supportive adult or another supportive adult in their lives.

Judi lived in several cooperative households in Grand Rapids, spending considerable time doing home schooling and daycare work, among other things.

Learning a lot about the war then being waged against people in Vietnam, Judi decided not to pay federal income taxes that were known to help fund that war. Judi’s method was to live below the income level that would require such tax payment. That proved entirely at one with Judi’s desire to “live simply that others may simply live”.

Judi was a strong supporter of all three main progressive “alternative” pre-internet newspapers published in Grand Rapids from the early 1970s until the late 1990s: The Root, New River Free Press, and The FUNdamentalist.

In the early 1970s Judi was part of a group that served meals to street people; an effort that grew into what became God’s Kitchen, which continues serving meals today to those in need.

Also in the early 1970s, following the sexual assault of a close friend, Judi helped start and worked with the group that established a local rape response group. That group evolved into the sexual assault support system that continues to operate today through the local YWCA.

After about ten years outside of formal school systems Judi resumed teaching, first at Climbing Tree School, then continuing when that school reorganized as a charter school and renamed itself New Branches Charter Academy. That job lasted about 15 years.

For many years Judi was a stalwart presence at the Grand Rapids based Institute for Global Education, and for a long time probably did more than anyone to keep it going and relevant.

In 1990 Judi brought trainers from Children’s Creative Response to Conflict (now Creative Response to Conflict International) to Grand Rapids to train interested people in their innovative methods. Shortly afterward Judi brought another program, Circles of Peace, to Grand Rapids. Circles of Peace promotes discussions and commitments to seven basic principles that embody how Judi lived: Respect Self and Others, Play Creatively, Listen, Communicate, Forgive, Respect Nature, Act Courageously. Judi took those programs to schools, neighborhood groups, parks, and elsewhere in Michigan, with emphasis on teaching others to become facilitators.

In 1986 Judi and life partner Richa decided, as a challenge to Kent County and the City of Grand Rapids, to divert property taxes to neglected and oppressed people and groups both locally and globally. In 1995 that resulted in loss of their home of about 20 years.

Upon losing their home Judi moved to Well House, a homeless shelter operated by a long-time friend, and became a staff person there. Several years later Judi became the director, leading Well House’s transition from emergency shelter to permanent supportive housing before finally retiring in 2010.

In 2000 Judi was one of a dozen people who signed off on recommendations for basic justice in Grand Rapids as part of the Mayor’s Justice 2000 Task Force. It was the most comprehensive blueprint for establishing justice – that is, basic fairness – that had been compiled in the City’s recent history, if ever.

Judi was never one who wanted to stand out, and always worked in collaboration with others.

Early on in Grand Rapids Judi found a spiritual home in the Grand Rapids Society of Friends, later becoming a member formally. That remained an important part of Judi’s spiritual community and a steady source of spiritual support for the rest of Judi’s active life.

Judi’s greatest legacy is not in the numerous accomplishments that can be easily listed, but in the goodwill and positive energy that Judi spread to virtually everyone they came in contact with personally: children and adults, rich and poor, women and men and otherwise, all manner of ethnicities, ”liberal” or “conservative” or whatever political stripe…even those who were initially antagonistic – as often was the case, for instance, with traumatized people who came to Well House. Judi brought hope to many such people and helped them feel good about themselves.

Judi had an incredible ability to identify with, empathize with, and make friends with virtually everyone. And virtually everyone grew in positive ways, large and small, from whatever relationship they had with Judi. A lifelong peace activist, that natural, personal interaction with others was surely Judi’s greatest contribution to peace in our community and our world.

Judi’s last few years were diminished by dementia, the disease which finally claimed Judi’s life. But Judi had loving care at home through that time and was blessed with a good quality of life even with that life-draining illness.

For those who wish to make financial contributions in Judi’s name, checks may be made out to “Grand Rapids Friends Meeting” and sent to:


Grand Rapids Friends Meeting
P O Box 1274
Grand Rapids, MI, 49501


Perhaps the best memorial gift you can give in Judi’s name is to carry on, as best you can in your own life, Judi’s legacy of peacemaking and deep caring.

Non-Violence in The Present

Non-violence is not talked about very much at this time, but it is a crucial component of human life.  It is true that humans want to maintain themselves in groups of similar people.  It feels safer and easier.  However, the fear of apparently different others eventually leads to violence against other people, property, and institutions. We must recognize that fear and bravely practice non-violence.  We may have been socialized to accept violence. It is difficult to be non-violent, especially since it is seen as cowardice and weakness, but it is absolutely necessary in these troubled times. There are very useful books, videos, and teachers who can help us change our thinking and actions. Gene Sharp has written a great deal and so has Marshall Rosenberg. Great pacifists like Dorothy Day and others struggled to promote peaceful ways of relating to others. Non-violence requires constant practice.


Twelve-step programs promote respect for oneself and others and ways of saying your truth in kind ways, “say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” We begin with goodwill, acceptance, and listening to others in order to achieve conflict resolution.  The structures of humanity in families, other relationships, business, and government need to always begin with the assumption of goodwill and honesty tempered with kindness. Yes, sometimes hostile behavior requires defensive action to protect ourselves and others, but hostility should never come first.


Formal education and informal socialization must stress the equality of all humans. Everyone deserves to be treated equitably. Of course, babies, sick, and infirm people need extra care and attention. We must practice the cultivation of courage and patience with ourselves and others. Differences of countries of origin, color, gender, gender preference, wealth, age, intelligence, religion in people should not determine greater or lesser status. Connection with others is a necessity for all humans. Our Institute for Global Education office has some good literature on non-violence for all ages of people.

By: Kate Villaire

Essentials for Smiles: Care items for Homeless People

Smiles all around!

March 12,, 2021

Dear Patron,

There are many unhoused citizens in and around greater Grand Rapids this year. The wintertime was especially difficult for these individuals due to the harsh winter weather in Michigan. The encampment at Heartside Park was uprooted as well, making things more difficult for them because it takes away the makeshift homes they had established for themselves. The Covid-19 Pandemic is only exasperating the situation because the people need to remain apart and in sanitary conditions to remain healthy. The dire need that the unhoused have is only growing. Now that spring is around the corner, we hope to brighten people’s days with simple essential items that are vital for their wellbeing.

At the Institute for Global Education (IGE), we seek to help our unhoused neighbors and friends by partnering with local non-profits. We have found that St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 134 Division Avenue North, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 provides services to these individuals. At the IGE, we started gathering supplies to put together care packages of essential products.

Would you consider donating either funding or essentials outlined below for our care packages to help us achieve our mission?

We call this mission “Essentials for Smiles” in hopes of brightening people’s days and ensuring they have essentials they need for the foreseeable future such as masks, chap sticks, and gloves.

We greatly appreciate your donation and it will be used to put together more care packages. If you wish to contribute funds, please go to Paypal or send us a check made out to IGE indicating “Essentials for Smiles”. To donate essentials, please contact Kate Shockey at email hidden; JavaScript is required.


Kim McKeon, Board Chair
Kate Shockey, Board Co-Chair

Please donate to IGE

The Institute for Global Education stands for peace and justice here in Grand Rapids. Please make a donation to keep the Institute for Global Education moving forward.

Every penny goes towards stopping attacks on women, immigrants, unions, African Americans and other oppressed peoples. IGE marched at the airport against Muslim ban. IGE hosts the International Day of Peace where over 150 people participated. IGE supported our union bus drivers of ATU in the struggle to preserve pensions, keep health care benefits, and win a good contract here at the Rapid. IGE rallies and protests against putting children in cages, and taking babies from their parents at the border to ship them to Bethany Christian Services here in Grand Rapids. IGE supported the Young Lords 50 Years Conference in Chicago. IGE has participated in Day of the Dead, Mandela Day, and many other efforts. Together we can build strong movements.

Please donate now! We need your donation more than ever.